Monday, June 02, 2008

If I Where A Super Delegate

If I where a super delegate , yada dada dada dah. All day long I'd biddy biddy bam. If I where a super delegate! …

Well actually no. It would not be an easy choice for me. At least not till this weekend. Here is why.

While I like what Obama symbolizes - a post racial, post identity-politics, thoughtful USA, committed to its best values rather than the selfish interests of its rich and powerful - he is an incredibly weak candidate: foremost because he stands a good chance of losing the election to McCain. Hillary Clinton is correct in this regard.

She is the stronger candidate. While both he and she are about equal in overall popularity polls vs McCain, she has the better distribution of votes. According to the latest polls she would easily defeat McCain. Obama would win or loose in a squeaker. According to my own tracking of the opinion polls Clinton now leads Obama in overall popularly versus McCain by 0.2% (a virtual tie). (Interestingly both beat McCain in popular vote by about 2%). But as for electoral votes, which is what really counts, Clinton beats McCain easily with between 282 and 318 (270 are needed to win), while Obama only gets between 267 and 272. Moreover her polling numbers have been moving up since early May, while his numbers are stagnent.

Obama would also be a less than ideal President, in my opinion, precisely because he wishes to be a uniter. He compromises too much for my taste. His health care plan is more modest than Clinton's (though the differences between the plans are not all that significant, and any health care plan is better than the mess the U.S. now has) mostly because he thinks he can "sell" it more easily and build a broader coalition to support it. He is clearly thoughtful. But it is not clear he is decisive or politically astute. Being President is not the same as being a university professor. His comments about small town Pennsylvanians probably had more truth to it than most would like to admit, but this sort of speculation, while an interesting insight in a Sociologist, is not useful in a politician. Finally,he si not so principled as he would have us think. He is not averse to sacrifice principal for expediency. His recent resignation from his church proves that. What did he learn about his church (as opposed to Rev Wright) in the past month that he did not already know? Simply that it could be a political liability. He said as much in his explanation of his resignation. Rather than stand up for the principal of pluralism and free speech within his church, he chose to abandon it. This after he had made such a big deal about how important it was to him.

Of course, little of the above has to do with why he is weaker than Hillary in the polls. That, I believe has more to do with good old fashioned racism, and the fact that Obama is, in fact, the more “feminine” of the two. Hillary comes across as the more “macho" one - a “junk yard dog, but ‘our’ junk yard dog” - while he is all cool and thoughtful and willing to talk and compromise if needed. While I find those “feminine” qualities appealing in a leader, many Americans don’t.

So why not just vote for Hillary. Well until this week that is what I would have done (if I was a super delegate!) This despite the fact that Hillary symbolizes the cynical and the hyper-partisan past. And she doesn't just symbolize it. She works at it faithfully. Her position on the gas tax proves she will embrace bad policy just to get votes. Her reference to her leading among “hard working Americans: white Americans” proves she will say anything to get votes. Her increased frenetic energy as her chances got poorer, proves she will do anything to get votes. Her remarks about the RFK assassination prove she will think and scheme anything to get votes.

But I would have, until this weekend, forgiven her all of that, since she presented the more certain chance of beating John McCain.

But this weekend she became a blackmailer and a traitor, and I can’t forgive her for that. This weekend she signalled that if she cannot get the nomination fro herself she will blow up the party and scuttle Obama’s chances to win in November. This weekend showed that she values her own ambitions far above the good of the American people and the world as a whole. If you saw the DNC rules committee meeting you know what I am talking about. If not you can read about it here.

Her supporters (and I can only believe they where scripted, even if only loosely) where rude, crude, and threatening. Bill Clinton may talk about his wife being disrespected, but one only had to watch a few minutes of the TV coverage to see who was being the disrespectful one (and that is putting it way too mildly.) Her supporters, including Mr Ikes, her official surrogate, expressed faux outrage that they did not get to steal the Michigan votes, claiming it was fair election, even though it had only one candidate – Hillary! They made it clear, they will fight to on. Fight Obama that is! It is clear that if Hillary does not win the nomination, she will do little to help Obama (though of course she will pretend to support him) while signalling, not so subtly, to her followers that the nomination was “stolen” from her, and they should either sit on their hands or vote and work from McCain.

I can understand that if she loses the nomination, she may deep down be ambivalent about Obama’s winning the presidency. After all, if he loses, she gets to try again in 4 years. But to be so openly ambitious, to actively stir the pot in the hopes it will cook Obama’s goose, is just too much.

If Hillary would rather see McCain win than Obama, than I would rather take my chances on Obama’s slim chances of beating McCain in the fall.

I won’t give in to blackmail!!

Of course, I am not a super delegate, and not even an American. If I had to live with McCain’s Supreme Court appointments, McCain’s continuation of the deaths in Iraq, McCain’s no-health-insurance, etc … I might yet reconsider. But even then, there so only so much “nose holding” one can do.

So here is hoping that the real super delegates back Obama, and that enough Americans can be persuaded to vote for him. Though not perfect, he is much better than either Clinton or McCain.

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